Michigan comes out in its new heavy I-formation, which features Mike Kwiatkowski on one side of the formation and Devin Funchess aligned as an H-back on the other side. This is a zone run left (maybe; I'll discuss this later):
Devin Funchess motions across the formation to the playside.
As the ball is snapped, the line blocks left, but the playside defensive tackle gets immediately inside Mealer. The other big problem is Ricky Barnum, whose first step is backward. He is now running behind Taylor Lewan instead of doubling the playside defensive end and allowing Lewan to release upfield.
Funchess comes out of the backfield to block the middle lineback, ignoring the the LB who was rolled up to the line of scrimmage on the playside (that's fullback Joe Kerridge's assignment). Mealer and Barnum are now two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Lewan, who was expecting help from Barnum (I think) is also being pushed into the backfield. This is before Gardner has even handed the ball off.
Toussaint has no choice but to try and bounce it outside...
...and it does not go well.
OK, so what actually happened here. I'm inclined to think this was a zone blocking scheme, but Barnum's first step leads me to believe this is a man blocking scheme. Here's what I think is happening: Barnum is not technically covered by a defensive tackle. Instead, that tackle is aligned in the playside A gap. If an offensive lineman isn't covered, he's instructed to pull toward the frontside, but in this instance, that requires Mealer reaches his block quickly and without any help.
The other problem with this blocking scheme actually happens on the backside. Patrick Omameh tries releasing to the second level but is engaged by the backside defensive tackle. At the same time, Michael Schofield tries to cut block the backside DT and should have been called for a chop block.
Other surprising aspects of this play: regardless of what the blocking scheme was, Taylor Lewan gets absolutely blown off the line of scrimmage.
I don't pretend to be an expert at offensive line schemes, but this seems untenable. I've watched this play upwards of 20 times and can't figure out what this line is doing. It's entirely possible that absolutely everyone gets beaten off the ball, but there just seems to be too much confusion for that to be the real cause. Mealer can't reach the playside defensive tackle, that much is clear. But what is Barnum's assignment? What is Omameh's assignment? Why is Schoefield the only one chop blocking? Side note: Why is he so bad at it? For all of the work that this staff has done with both sides of the ball, I can't understand why the offensive line looks so ill-prepared and confused.